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April 30, 2013

Editor’s Note: This year the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy directed agencies that make research grants to develop plans to increase access to federally funded scientific research and to improve the management of research dataThe management of research data is a new field for librarians, but librarians and archivists at universities and research facilities have responded to this need and have been working with researchers to “curate,” or preserve, make accessible, and share, collections of research data sets. As part of a 2010 IMLS grant, Purdue University Libraries held workshops and created a toolkit for librarians to capture information about data generated by researchers. This article describes another tool that emerged from that grant, a data curation profiles directory.

By D. Scott Brandt
Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Library Science, Purdue University Libraries

We are happy to announce the launch of Data Curation Profiles Directory, a new serial publication brought to you by Purdue University Libraries and the Distributed Data Curation Center—the people who created the Data Curation Profiles Toolkit.

If you haven’t heard, Data Curation Profiles (DCP) are in-depth publications that provide detailed information about data in specific research areas that may be published, shared, and archived for re-use and dissemination. The profiles were designed as data curation tools for use by library and information science professionals, archivists, IT professionals, and others.


Data Curation Profiles tell the story about a research data set from the researcher’s perspective. Profiles contain contact information for the creator of the data set and give key information about what the data set includes, how it is encoded, who its audience is, conditions for use, and much more. The Directory already contains profiles representing a variety of disciplines: for example, history, architecture, sociology, seismology, plant genetics, and food technology.

The DCP and the associated Toolkit, which provides instructions and advice on how to create a profile, are the results of research funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The Toolkit received the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Science and Technology Section (STS) 2013 Innovation Award from the American Library Association.

We created the Data Curation Profiles Directory as a way to manage profiles that librarians submitted to us after completing Purdue University Libraries’ DCP Toolkit workshops. Initially we posted the profiles to the DCP Toolkit website but started wondering how sustainable that would be.  We also wanted to develop a means for authors of DCPs to have their work recognized as scholarship in the library field.

Jake Carlson, associate professor of library science, approached the Libraries Publishing Services (home of the Purdue University Press) to inquire if a new kind of publication might align with its goals. Fortunately, they were very interested in innovative forms of content delivery. The new Data Curation Profiles Directory provides a suite of services to support and encourage publication, including the assignment of  a permanent identification number using the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system,  as well as a citation for each published profile, improved visibility through indexing and new discovery tools for each profile, and finally the implementation of CLOCKSS and Portico to provide a digital archive service for profiles that are added to the directory service. Epic gain!

The Directory provides sustainable access to profiles, which librarians or researchers can use to see how researchers address data management issues and the type of needs they articulate across a variety of institutions and disciplines. The more profiles published the more variety and depth the Directory will have. And obviously, the more stories the better!

We encourage you to check out the Data Curation Profiles Directory at and let us know what you think.

D. Scott Brandt is associate dean for research and Professor of Library Science at Purdue University Libraries. He is the interim director of the Distributed Data Curation Center, and has been PI on two IMLS grants related to data curation and management. You can contact him ( or Jake Carlson ( if you have any questions about the Data Curation Profiles, the Toolkit, or the Directory.

Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program